Jo Adkins named Western Week parade marshal
by Chip Latcham
Oct 15, 2008 | 4169 views | 14 14 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jo Adkins of Beeville, who is a longtime supporter of causes to benefit her community and South Texas, is being recognized as the Bee County Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Western Week parade marshal.
Jo Adkins of Beeville, who is a longtime supporter of causes to benefit her community and South Texas, is being recognized as the Bee County Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Western Week parade marshal.
Jo Adkins, 91, a tireless advocate for her community and South Texas, is being honored as the Bee County Chamber of Commerce’s Western Week parade marshal this year.

She will ride in a convertible at the front of the 2008 parade through downtown Beeville on Saturday.

“The parade committee chose to honor Jo Adkins and the Chamber is thrilled to recognize her for her lifelong contributions to our community,” said Chamber President Pam Priour Stuart.

She added that it was only fitting that the widow of Teal Adkins, longtime Beeville postmaster, is being honored during the community’s Sesquicentennial celebration along with Western Week.

Mrs. Adkins has had a long history of civic involvement, not only in promoting Beeville and Bee County, but also this region, including the designation of Padre Island National Seashore.

In 1994, Mrs. Adkins was chosen by the Victoria Advocate as one of eight outstanding “South Texas Women.” Mrs. Adkins was unaware that she had been nominated for the honor, which had been previously awarded to her sister-in-law, the late Hilda Adkins, in 1991.

The eight recipients were selected and recognized for their diverse talents and consistent contributions to numerous projects which provided needed services or enhanced the quality of life in their communities, area or state.

Mrs. Adkins was born in Donna in 1917 and, after graduating from high school there, enrolled at the Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) in Denton, where she received a bachelor of science degree in vocational home economics in 1939.

She came to Beeville to teach school that fall and after meeting Teal Adkins, married him on Dec. 1, 1939. The couple have three children, Scott, Tom and Joan, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Active in numerous organizations benefiting the arts, environment and youth, her memberships, past and/or present, include:

• First Presbyterian Church, in which she has been chairman of the finance committee for the South Texas Presbytery in women’s work and served two years as a chairman of World Missions.

• Retired Teachers Association, after teaching 12 years in the Beeville public schools, the last eight as head of the high school home economics department; and received a life membership from the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers in recognition of her work as past president of the local organization.

• Rosetta Club, which she has served as conservation chairman, and also was state conservation chairman of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. Her work there led Gov. Price Daniel to appoint her to a Padre Island Study Commission, which eventually resulted in the establishment of Padre Island National Seashore in 1965. She was commended by U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall on her well-researched 18-page report, which was “largely responsible” for the successful conclusion to that effort. The Rosetta Club named her outstanding clubwoman in 1984, and now she is lifetime honorary member.

• Civic Music Association and its successor, Community Concerts Association, in which she has led successful membership campaigns, bringing top performing classical musicians to Beeville.

• United Clubs Youth Council, which she organized and served as president for three years, during which time the funds were raised to erect the Beeville Youth Center as a recreational facility for teens in 1948.

• Bee County Historical Commission, to which she was appointed by the county judge, Bee County Historical Society (a charter member) and the Genealogical Society, in which she has assisted in the work of preserving local, area and family history.

• Beeville Art Association, which she served as president for several years and during her tenure, worked with Beeville native Dr. Joe Barnhart of Houston to secure a home for the Beeville Art Museum; after he purchased and turned over the former R.L. Hodges home built in 1910 to the art group, Mrs. Adkins worked to acquire an endowment fund of $100,000 to underwrite future expenses on the home (renamed the Esther Barnhart House, in memory of the doctor’s mother), and another endowment fund to set up educational programs at the museum; also she initiated the annual Christmas Homes Tour, benefiting the work of the art association and has served as chairman of this event for 11 years.

• Beeville Garden Club, Texas and International Palm Societies, North American Butterfly Association, Corpus Christi Botanical Society (charter member), which indicates her interests in the birds, flowers and plants of this area.

She has often been lauded for her efforts in this community and elsewhere, as indicated by her inclusion in the biographical history, “Texas Women of Distinction,” written in 1962 by Ina May McAdams of Austin.

A Texas Ornithological Society charter member and founder, Mrs. Adkins continues the tradition of active birding even into her ninth decade. At age 89, she went on a birding trip to Trinidad in June 2007. Her life and story are an inspiration for TOS members.

Keenly interested in wildlife and conservation, Mrs. Adkins was involved in efforts to save the golden eagle, Harris’s hawk and Attwater prairie chicken.

Her greatest disappointment was the loss of Frandolig Island, a barrier island separating Rockport and Little Bay from the main Aransas Bay. She and John R. Beasley, a Beeville attorney, joined naturalist Connie Hagar in trying to save the birds on Frandolig Island, but developers turned it into Key Allegro, a mass of canals, homes and people.

Her biggest achievement would have to be Padre Island National Seashore. She stood up against big-shot politicians and argued for the park, resulting in a huge win for conservation. Her support for making it a national park was cited as vital in its establishment.

She also is a member of the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and Wildflower Nature Center.

In 2000, the old Terrell home in Berclair was offered to Mrs. Adkins and her art club. For the last few years she has been very involved along with the Beeville Art Association with the restoration and maintenance of what is now known as “the Berclair Mansion.”

Mrs. Adkins had always dreamed of having Beeville recognized on our U.S. highways. Her work with the county judge’s and mayor’s advisory task force and the state highway department furnished the opportunity. Now the beautiful welcome to Beeville signs on the entrances from the north and south on U.S. Highway 181 Bypass are adorned with the familiar county courthouse motif and many palm trees.

In the Bee-Picayune’s 50 years ago column, it has been noted that Mrs. Adkins, while helping her husband with the Bee County Centennial celebration in 1958, was in charge of bringing a wildlife exhibit from the Texas Game and Fish Commission to Beeville Oct. 19-25. Featured in the display were live mammals, fish, reptiles and birds.

Just this year, Mrs. Adkins agreed to take over for the late Gail Blackmon to stage the successful Sesquicentennial style show for the Beeville Historical Society, which was held at the Beeville Country Club last Thursday night.

She jokingly noted that working with wild animals was easier than hosting the style show.

Editor’s note: This includes information from previous stories by Joyce Latcham and Jimmy Jackson.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 23, 2008
What a wonderful thing for the community to do to honor a great lady. I know my own Mother would have been thrilled to see this happen. God bless Mrs. Adkins and the entire Adkins family.
James P McCollom
December 22, 2008
Sorry to be late in responding. I’ve been away during much of this period. The problem with writing notes is that by now the merits in her life exceed available language. The extraordinary response on Jo Adkins’ 90th birthday showed the community felt the event more deeply than western week. Warm greetings to Jo and all the family at Christmas. Jim

Tinka Adkins
December 22, 2008
I have always known that Effie Joe Adkins was the best mother-in-law around; no better than her. But to also be so talented and so giving to community and family is extra icing on the cake. I love her so. Her daughter-in-Law, Tinka Adkins
Bobby Strahm
December 15, 2008
My Aunty Jo! I have so many wonderful memories from my childhood that revolve around you and your family. To you my entire family owe our love of reading, from my Mother Melissa down to my youngest son Jack. I will always cherish those afternoons in Beeville sitting with you reading from your extensive collection of books and magazines. To her family, my family owes a debt of gratitude for providing stability where it was sorely needed several times over the years. Aunty Jo, you have truly touched my life and I am so much better for having you in it. I am tremendously proud of your accomplishments and look forward to reading about you for many more years! We love you Aunty Jo!

Bobby, Dena, Avery, Paul and Jack Strahm
Mary C. Holloway
December 15, 2008
I find your passion for meaning something in this world outside of yourself so inspirational. I don't know how you found the time or energy to do so much more than what your life required. Along with all of those accomplishments..You reached out to your Arizona family and kept us reminded we had family that loved us...that we were a part of something more. Thank you for your love, your honesty, and your true concern for your brother's children.
Terry Lee Hill
November 24, 2008
Jo is one of a kind. She made me feel loved and part of the family from the first time I met her.

I Love you Jo and feel privileged to have met you.

Your Friend & Mine = Terry Lee
Bill Schultz
November 18, 2008
Outstanding "South Texas Woman" indeed! Over the years I've heard all about Mrs. Adkins' achievements; she's quite a gal. But I've always just known her as Tom's dear, sweet mother.
Melissa Adkins Mille
November 14, 2008
I can't get to "post a comment" but I know my Aunty Jo probably could which says so much about her ability to move forward with technology and embrace the many changing ways of the world.

Aunty Jo holds a place like no other in my heart, and is one of my honorary mothers. I remember cooking together, when she said I was "astute" and I didn't know what that meant but learned the meaning of the word from her.

Her appreciation of my art is the finest compliment of my endeavors, and impressing her tends my garden as an artist. When she keeps something I made or wrote, it brings encouragement and joy to my soul.

I appreciate her for consoling me when a wasp stung me swooping down from a mesquite tree that holds a special place in my childhood memories.

Although I haven't always taken her advice, her opinion holds enormous weight in my decisions. When I looked at her picture from the Bee Picayune, I was amazed at her beauty as she has "grown up".

One of the most soulful places I go, is to her majestic garden.

[Sent as an e-mail to Tom Adkins from Meilissa Adkins Miller]
LillianDee Davenport
November 13, 2008
Why I am grateful Jo Adkins is who she is. The details of her life helped me connect to the legacy of our grandfather John R. Beasley and the conservation work they did together.

It strengthens me to know another wonderful woman from Beeville from where my mother came as well. Jo Adkins infuses the legacy which backs me up when I need it. It is America’s people who make this country such a wonderful place to live. Jo Adkins’ life is an example of the incredible power and contributions one woman can make. Thank you for inspiring us with the way you lead your life.

Wes Skeeters
November 10, 2008
My, My....That article reads like a "Who's Who in Texas History!" Auntie Joe, you are an amazing woman. I marvel at your involvement, participation, and leadership in so many areas over the years! Even with 91 years to accomplish all that you have, you had to stay busy all the time. I'm thinking, "who gives that much time and energy to this many causes?" You've got my vote for "Texas Woman of the 20th Century," if there were such an honor.

You are an inspiration to us all to give back to our community, our state, and our great country. All of your family is very proud of you, and we all love you dearly.

Tom Cornelius
November 10, 2008
I first met Jo at an NSA regional in Corpus Christi in 1991. If the name Ed Lovelace comes up she will know what I refer to. It seems like only yesterday that she became a very close friend and introduced me to people of her life that have also become very close and dear friends. Namely Joan and Tom (her children) and many others whom they knew. It is amazing how one person can touch so many others and be somewhat responsible for their direction in life. Jo was always there with her big smile, ready and ansious to do her part.


Thank you for being a part of my life and my family.
Meredith Skeeters
November 10, 2008
I love you Auntie Joe! I am so amazed at what you have accomplished in your lifetime. You have touched so many people through the years, and I am in awe and honored to have you as my aunt. You have built a place in my heart with your never ending love and support. Your beautiful spirit continues to bless me always and forever, and I will treasure it as a priceless heirloom! It is a constant reminder of what is important in life. Thank you for being you!
Tom Adkins
November 05, 2008
I would be remiss if I did not mention that, of all the remarkable acheivements of my dear Mother, this, seemingly, comparatively small one mentioned above,...

" United Clubs Youth Council, which she organized and served as president for three years, during which time the funds were raised to erect the Beeville Youth Center as a recreational facility for teens in 1948." exemplifies her selfless dedication to her community (especially the youth). In 1948 after 9 years of a childless marriage and, most probably, coming to grips with the inevitability of remaining childless, she still, not only, helped raise the funds for the Beeville Youth Center, but even personally laid brick and mortar to build this gift to the youth of her adopted hometown. She, saw the need for a facility that provided a safe place for the children in a small town to go and have dances, play games, and congregate.

Twenty years later I, as well as my siblings, cousins, and friends, had some of our fondest teenage memories within the walls of "our" Youth Center.

This is a true testament to her ever-optimistic vision, and an example of:"Build it, and they will come".

Her life example gives meaning to the framed saying that always hung in our home: "There is no limit to the good a [wo]man can do, if he[she] doesn't care who gets the credit", she never has.

However, after a lifetime of "good", thank you Beeville and Chip(channeling his own dear mother Joyce[another Beeville treasure]) for giving this, truly "American Heroine" her due.
Tom Adkins
November 05, 2008
What this wonderful article doesn't mention is, all these accomplishments of my Mother's meant nothing to her compared to her relationship with her husband and the children she spent 11 years trying to conceive and the rest of her life loving and nourishing. To say that my Mother is a remarkable person does not do justice to the high esteem in which we, her children, hold her, and the love we feel for her. As busy a life as she has had(and continues to have), she has always had time to tell a bedtime story when we were young and listen to our "late-night bedtime stories of our problems and the challenges we face[d]" to this very day. Her wise counsel has, and continues to, guide our lives.

She remains a "90 year old little girl", curious about, and in love with life, nature, and people. Knowing her has been the greatest privilege of my life. Actually, being her offspring has always been tough, no IMPOSSIBLE, to live up to, but it is a source of enormous pride.